The $1.7 trillion social spending bill that narrowly passed the U.S. House Friday morning will likely end up back before the lower chamber in December, as several senators have objected to components of the bill in its current form.
That would mean another decision on the potentially revised bill for Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine’s 2nd District who was the only member of his party to oppose the legislation Friday but said he would be open to voting for it if he sees “meaningful changes.”
The spending package includes a range of Democratic priorities, including investments to combat climate change, funding for child care, a one-year extension of the expanded child tax credit and provisions aimed at lowering prescription drug prices.
The extent of potential revisions in the Senate is not yet clear. Democrats have no wiggle room in the upper chamber split 50-50, where they need every member on board. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, has indicated skepticism about the bill’s provisions for paid family leave and, more recently, a tax credit for only union-made electric vehicles. Neither he nor Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, have explicitly endorsed the bill.
Objections have come from the progressive side of the party, too. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has — like Golden — been critical of raising the cap on the state and local tax deduction, saying earlier this month that it was “beyond unacceptable” for Democrats to be “giving more tax breaks to the very rich.” Sanders, who chairs the Senate budget committee, has suggested eliminating the cap for households making less than $400,000, effectively cutting their taxes if they were eligible for the deduction, but leaving it as is for households making more than that.
Golden, who cited the inclusion of the state and local tax deduction provision as the primary reason for his opposition to the larger bill, said he planned to “work with any willing senators and the White House to fix this extremely misguided policy.”
The 2nd District congressman’s position on the bill has been scrutinized by both progressives and conservatives as he remains a top target for national Republicans in 2022. Heritage Action, a national conservative “dark money” group, announced earlier this week that it would spend more than $400,000 on ads in the 2nd District bashing the bill as “bloated” and criticizing the plan to lift the cap on the state and local tax deduction.
Former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who is seeking a rematch with Golden in 2022, also criticized the bill earlier this week, citing its overall size and tax provisions, as well as concerns about inflation.
But labor unions and other groups that have historically backed Golden have also been pushing him to vote for it. Dean Staffieri, president of the Maine Service Employees Association, said in a Thursday night statement that Golden was “missing an enormous opportunity to help workers and families.” The Maine AFL-CIO, without mentioning Golden by name, applauded the bill’s passage Friday, characterizing it as “pro-worker legislation” and “a tremendous step to building a fairer economy.”
Rep. Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington, said she appreciated Golden’s attention to the state and local deduction, but thought voting against the bill over it was “making the perfect the enemy of the good” when the legislation also included investments in affordable housing, child care and fighting climate change.
“I hope that he will consider changing his position when the bill comes back from the Senate,” McDonald said.